original photo courtesy of Richard Immel
The Open Mat’s College Wrestler of the Week award goes to the University of Pittsburgh’s sophomore 184 lber Nino Bonaccorsi. Nino led his Pittsburgh Panthers to an 18-13 comeback win over #7 Virginia Tech on Saturday evening. Bonaccorsi was tasked with facing the Hokies top grappler, second-ranked Hunter Bolen.
Nino struck first with a takedown on the edge of the mat with less than a minute remaining in the first period; however, he trailed 3-2 after one stanza. Heading into the third period, Bolen had extended his lead to 6-2, after a late takedown. Undeterred, Bonaccorsi got two of his own in the final 30 seconds of regulation to knot the match at seven points and sending the contest into sudden victory. A scoreless minute of sudden victory gave way to the 30-second tiebreakers. In the second of the two periods, Bolen escaped to tie the bout at eight points, but Nino did not give him any room to breathe and was in on another leg attack with he converted for two points. The Panthers would ride out Bolen for the final six seconds of the match to earn a 10-8 win and pull his team within one point of the Hokies. Wins by his teammates at 197 and 285 lbs clinched the conference win for head coach Keith Gavin’s group.
Bonaccorsi ends his regular season with a 20-4 mark and he is on a four-match winning streak. His previous three wins during that stretch came with bonus points and he has earned bonus in more than 58% of his matches. It will be interesting to see how seeing works at the ACC Championships, as him Bolen and Trent Hidlay (NC State), have all traded wins against each other. As a freshman, Nino was an ACC runner-up, which led him to receive the 13th seed at the 2019 NCAA Championships, which took place in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Bonaccorsi is looking to improve upon his Round of 12 finish at the tournament last year. Pittsburgh will also host the ACC Championships on Sunday, March 8th.